There is tension in Akwa Ibom State as unknown gunmen invaded a catholic church and abducted the parish priest, Fr Alphonsus Uboh in Mkpat Enin Local Government Council of Akwa Ibom State.
The gunmen, it was gathered, had kidnapped about 18 persons in the community between November 2021 and May 2022
Few days ago it could be recalled that the founder and President of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okoriko was abducted at his residence in the same community but later regained freedom after spending four days in the kidnappers den.
The abduction of Fr. Uboh has raised a lot of concern and tension in the community.
An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity told journalists that the gunmen arrived the church premises at exactly 7pm on Sunday in a motorcycle convoy, whisked the priest away on their motorcycle after shooting sporadically into the air just to scare away the people.
Speaking to journalists in Ekparakwa on Monday, a youth leader who pleaded anonymity said more than 18 persons were abducted in the communities between November and April, adding that the area is not safe at the moment.
He listed other victims to include shop owners, civil servants such as teachers, nurses and local businessmen in the area.
He recalled that a Medical Doctor at Health Centre Ikot Ekpaw, a neighbouring village to Ekparakwa was whisked away at gunpoint while attending to patient in the theatre in February this year.
The youth leader disclosed that residents of the area especially in Ikot Akaam could not sleep in their houses at night while some have fled for fear of being kidnapped or killed by the gunmen.
He revealed dangerous spots along Ekparakwa-Ikot Abasi road where the gunmen ambushed market women, traders and motorists for their operations.
He mentioned a deep pothole area after former Hapel company yard before the sharp corner to Ikot Ebak village as a very deadly zone where the gunmen hide to waylaid their victims, adding that many people have been killed on the spot.
He said the situation became worst when motorists diverted the bad spot on the road to another by pass in the village and the gunmen also relocated to the road, killing innocent commuters who resisted them in their robbery.
“One day a woman who deals on palm oil returned from market. Unknown to her, the gunmen had laid ambush on the diverted road, they intercepted her robbed her of N700,000 cash and killed her.”
Another youth leader who refused to mention his name for fear of possible attack disclosed that Ikot Ebak, Ibekwe Akpan Nya and neighbouring villages in OrukAnam local government areas have become the centre of kidnappers in recent time.
He said the climax of their operations was when the founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church Apostle John Okoriko was abducted in his residence few weeks ago.
Continuing, he said after the man of God was released from the kidnappers den, two persons were shot dead in the community last Wednesday.
“Even last week Wednesday, after Apostle Okoriko was released, the gunmen returned to the village and killed Okoriko’s friend and one of his relations in an early morning raid.
“The kidnappers have converted the bush in one of the primary schools to their hide out where they caged their victims”, he said.
In a telephone interview, AKwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Mcdon confirmed the abduction of the Catholic Priest and other activities of gunmen in the area and promised to work on the criminals.
“We have received that report from the area and we are working on it”, he said.